The Crippled Masters

March 5th, 2009 by Vomitron

The Crippled Masters   crippledmasters cover 82x120 reviews horror action Director: Joe Law
Writer: none, apparantly
Release Year: 1979
Mandarin title: Tian Can Di Que

Limbless Kungfu

The Crippled Masters   offscreen 2008 mini logo reviews horror action Let’s get right to the point: The Crippled Masters is a fantastic horrible movie. Hilarious and cringeworthy scenes follow one another at rapid speed, while this crippled kungfu extravaganza unfolded before our very eyes at last year’s ‘Freakshow Friday’, part of a midnight screening series at Offscreen Film Festival.


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Thai Tyrant wins!

On a sidenote, the director’s name Joe Law had me, quite randomly, reminding the legendary character Forrest Law from the videogame series Tekken. And with this, we come awfully close to what The Crippled Masters actually is in spirit: an obscure seventies freak-version of a Tekken adaptation, driven by a hair-thin vengeance plot. Now if only it would have featured some more freaks to beat up.

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Masterful chin itch solution

It’s common knowledge that some Japanese filmmakers have got a few screws loose. But Taiwanese members of the filmmaking community appear to be, if possible, even more bonkers. The ingenious bastard who came forward with the idea of exploiting physically handicapped ‘actors’ in a Kungfu feature movie, deserves an award for originality. Admit it, only in the seventies would demented producers invest money in such a ridiculous idea. Well, ridiculous, that’s to say… In the end the movie is still circulating, after almost 30 years, and has even become a real cult-film classic.

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Hey you! Don't run away!

The main concept of the movie is exteremely simple (and logistcally speaking, in favor of the almost non-existing budget). Take two men, one without arms and one without legs, very talented in the art of Kungfu. At the start of the movie, just chop off one guy’s (fake) arms and pour all-consuming acid on the other one’s (fake) legs. Since they didn’t have those aforementioned limbs to begin with, it considerably cuts down the special effects budget too. All malevolent torture is performed under the all-seeing and very evil eye of a Thai tyrant (also a martial arts expert, with an iron hunchback as his ‘special ability’). And there you have it. Only thing left to do, is to train the two invalids until they become perfect fighting machines with a taste for strawberry-sweat vengeance. Alongside all this nonsense, some sort of irrelevant subplot surfaces about six magical crystal horsies (or something), but that idea was quickly buried when the producers realised they’d have less fight-, punch-, jump- and kickscenes because of it. Also noteworthy, is how utterly sadistic certain scenes are. I mean, don’t have a guy with no arms running up a hill with scattered bamboo-sticks. He’s bound to fall flat on his face repeatedly and hurt himself. And standing on a rock, trying to drink from a stream, he’s bound to fall in and drown. Yes, handicapped people can be funny.

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I'm intelligent.

The soundtrack is a total hoot too. It consists of merely four samples of sorts, phonetically best described as ‘dish’, ‘dooch’, ‘kang’ and one impossible to define sound that closely resembles a short but powerful scraping of the throat. Now imagine that all these sounds, repeated infinitely at the speed of light, are edited one after another every time punches are dealt. Remind yourself of the fact that this is a Kungfu movie, an you should be able to imagine how crooked our ears were after seeing The Crippled Masters.

The Crippled Masters   nacht vd wansmaak 200x300 reviews horror action Let’s end this with another sidenote, shall we? Jan Verheyen, a Belgian director that’s famous around these parts, also appears to be a big fan of The Crippled Masters. The trailer surfaced in multiple editions of De Nacht van de Wansmaak (Night of Bad Taste), a theatrical festivity hosted by Mr. Verheyen, as well as on the dvd versions of this franchise. To top it off, I also caught dear Jan expressing his love for this type of films on his late night TV show Cult Night Special. From undisclosed sources we once recieved criticism about Jan‘s taste in movies. It went something like “Where does he get the right to judge on what’s bad taste or not?”. My opinion is that ‘bad taste’, much like ‘beauty’, lies in the eye of the beholder. And that’s why everybody is granted this right. A matter of tastes, shall not be discussed.

So let it be clear. Jan Verheyen was right all along. The Crippled Masters is bad taste of the utmost exquisite kind.


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